Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nandi Hills - a Place with Underutilized Tourism Potential

Like one of those places that you don’t visit despite staying close to them, I had never paid much attention to Nandi Hills. My indifference to Nandi Hills is not witout its reason. Nandi Hills is neither far enough from Bangalore to be called a proper outing nor near enough for a quick visit. (It’s roughly two and a half hours’ drive from Bangalore.)

Nor is Nandi Hills a well promoted tourist spot. And this is not because the place doesn’t have any potential but because of government apathy. The place is controlled by Karnataka tourism (govt) which denies entry to private players. So, except a few privately-owned small shops, everything is owned and run by the Government.

The result is restaurants with very limited menu and average food (they don’t accept any card). There are no professional tourist guides despite the place’s history, leaving visitors to the mercy of a sentence or two in Kannada on stone slabs.

Nandi Hills occupies a huge area with the potential for intra-train and bus rides for visitors. There could also be rope ways connecting various hilltops (there are a few). But you get none of them.

As my friend Kram and I left the babble of the city behind us, Nandi Hills came into sight. There are only Panjabi dhabas, coconut water sellers and tea-cigarette shops with make-shift structures on the way to the Hills.

Nandi Hills was a summer retreat of Tipu Sultan, the staunchest southern adversary of the British, and later of British officers. It’s located on a hilltop with several things to see (some dating back to Tipu Sultan and some made by the British in later years) but the most visited are the temples and the suicide spot, a cliff with a stiff drop where offenders sentenced to death were brought and pushed down.

The cliff has been surrounded by a wall with small openings. Beyond the cliff is a stiff fall leading to the bottom of the hill. With a little flight of imagination, you can imagine how the prisoners would have felt before being pushed to death.

A good point about the lack of commercialization is that there is lot of greenery. There are narrow pathways with trees on both sides. Some green assemblages are so thick that hardly any light gets in. There are flights of stairs, unobtrusively located inside grooves of trees, leading two, three floors down. The stairs are generally lonesome and sometimes it could be just you negotiating century-old pathways descending through dense foliage of trees.

For various people, Nandi Hills is various things. For some, it’s a good driving experience. The path that leads to the top of the hills spiraling all the way from the bottom – tests your driving skills when you are on the way up. My friend learnt driving few months back but negotiated the spiraling pathway with the assurance of a professional.

For some, it’s a picnic spot (you could see food cans inside their vehicles). For some, it’s just a casual holiday outing, which is not costly and yet refreshing. For me, it was all of them with a bit of history thrown in.

Wish you a happy new year.


Ellen said...

Hi Indra,

Oh you made such a lovely change on your blog face. I like it. :-)

I agree with you that there are some places which the government pays no attention to despite its apparent potential as a tourist attraction. It's the same thing here in my country. The focus is on places which already display or generate revenue fast and sure.

Anyway, old habits or mind sets don't go away simply with the coming of the new year. It takes a lot more than that.

Hey thanks for your lovely New Year greeting in my blog. Sweet and thoughtful. :-) Wish you a very much blessed and prosperous year up ahead. May your fond dreams come true.

God bless you.

indrablog said...

Hi Elen,
Yes, when I visited the place I found it to have lot more potential than is used and the govt doesn't do anything about it. No one is saying it can't do but at least it hasn't done much.

I'm always happy to visit your blog.

Hai Baji said...
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snigdha G said...
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